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What's in the Galaxy S21 box? Not much

Well, Samsung definitely included a phone in the box.

Patrick Holland Managing Editor
Patrick Holland has been a phone reviewer for CNET since 2016. He is a former theater director who occasionally makes short films. Patrick has an eye for photography and a passion for everything mobile. He is a colorful raconteur who will guide you through the ever-changing, fast-paced world of phones, especially the iPhone and iOS. He used to co-host CNET's I'm So Obsessed podcast and interviewed guests like Jeff Goldblum, Alfre Woodard, Stephen Merchant, Sam Jay, Edgar Wright and Roy Wood Jr.
Expertise Apple, iPhone, iOS, Android, Samsung, Sony, Google, Motorola, interviews, coffee equipment, cats Credentials
  • Patrick's play The Cowboy is included in the Best American Short Plays 2011-12 anthology. He co-wrote and starred in the short film Baden Krunk that won the Best Wisconsin Short Film award at the Milwaukee Short Film Festival.
Patrick Holland
2 min read
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Aside from a charging cable and some documentation, the new Galaxy S21 series (like the iPhone 12 family) arrive basically all alone in their box. Their wired headphones and wall charger boxmates have disappeared. Both Samsung and Apple cite a reduced impact on the environment as a reason behind their omissions. Who could argue with that? I mean, we could have a much more serious conversation on yearly phone upgrade cycles and their impact on our planet. But let's keep things light for now.

Read more: Check out CNET's Galaxy S21 review and Galaxy S21 Ultra review.

By removing items like headphones and power adapters, both Apple and Samsung will undoubtedly save money on material costs, manufacturing, packaging, labor and shipping. But unlike a local discount mattress outlet, it's hard to tell if either company is passing those savings onto you.

It's smart for both companies to scale back like this. But it does feel like they're removing the parsley garnish off of the dinner plate and bragging about how much lighter it is. Are there ways to make fewer  phones ? Or for the companies to upgrade phone models less frequently? That's where the real meat and potatoes are. Again, I don't mean to get too serious.

Watch this: We unbox and go hands-on with the Galaxy S21 and S21 Ultra

But like the seasons changing, we have another launch of an entirely new lineup of phones that replace models that came out less than a year ago. Earlier this month, the new Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21 Plus and Galaxy S21 Ultra were announced. Samsung cut US prices for each phone by $200. But that's not the only thing the company cut. Wired headphones (which Samsung stopped including with the Galaxy Note 20 launch) and a wall charger are no longer included in the boxes for the new phones.

We could debate the financial, environmental and societal motivations behind these omissions. But what makes this all the more rich was last year Samsung had a post on Facebook that mocked Apple for not including a charger with the iPhone 12 . Curiously enough, that post was removed.

What's in the box for the Galaxy S21?

Aside from the Galaxy S21 (or S21 Plus or S21 Ultra), here is what's included in the box:

  • A USB-C cable
  • A printed setup guide and instructions
  • A SIM card tool
Watch this: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs. iPhone 12 Pro Max: Spec breakdown